A dozen or so early entrants who werent expected to keep their name in the draft have made this one of the deepest and most crowded drafts in recent memory. When asked about this by DraftExpress yesterday, NBA Director of Scouting Marty Blake emphatically stated that I drafted Dino Meneghin in the 11th round in 1970, so obviously there have been deeper ones but considering other recent drafts this is certainly one of the deeper ones. The consensus amongst people in the business seems to be that the ones who will feel the biggest pull will be the NCAA seniors. While the trend of drafting high school players and raw Europeans was usually something we saw in the first round over the past few seasons, the fact that an age limit will be in place next year and the newly established rules regarding sending players down to the NBDL now makes these younger prospects attractive in the 2nd round as well. 25, 24, 17,16, 13, 15 and 19 are the amount of NCAA seniors that were drafted in the 2nd round in the past seven years (going from 1998-2004). It will be interesting to see if well even get close to those numbers this year. While the mass media tends to focus strictly on the 1st round in terms of evaluating draft prospects, it will be the 2nd round which will ultimately decide who the premiere franchises are in terms of scouting and evaluating talent when we look at this draft in hindsight in a couple of years. A quick scan over the allstar team rosters from the past two seasons show that no less than six different players of the 33 individuals (not counting players twice) chosen for the all-star teams were either 2nd round picks or undrafted players. The NBA is full of excellent players who did not hear their name called in the first round of the draft on draft night. Hopefully ESPN will do a better job of actually letting us know who was picked this year in the 2nd round rather then use their ticker on the bottom of the screen, and maybe even let their team of experts break down the picks as they happen as they do in the NFL draft all the way down to the 9th day and 67th round.
Andrew Bynum works out for Portland again
Possibly the toughest player in this draft may have just had his hand revealed just a little bit yesterday in Portland. According to NBA sources, Andrew Bynum worked out for the Portland Trailblazers once again yesterday, his second workout with the organization in the past week. Bynum had supposedly shut down his workouts and even cancelled a workout with the Nets on Wednesday. The workout was supposed to be top secret, but word quickly leaked out to us from two separate and independent sources. With the NBA finals in the books and teams being free to make trades once again, the stage could be set for the Blazers to pull off a much anticipated trade with the Lakers that would send the #3 pick to Los Angeles. The Lakers would use the #3 to take either the logical pick, Chris Paul ,or Kupchacks favorite, Gerald Green. Portland would take Andrew Bynum, maybe pick up Caron Butler on the way, and dump a bad contract like Ruben Patterson in the process in return for Chucky Atkins ending contract.
Vazquez out of the mix in Utah?
From what we are hearing, right now Kevin OConnor is not planning on flying to New York City on Sunday to attend the private workout involving Fran Vazquez. Almost everyone has been predicting that Vazquez goes to Utah all year long, but thats clearly not going to happen. If all things stay equal and OConnor doesnt go there, you can mark it down that Vazquez will not be going to Utah. Considering the way Utahs first rounders last year, Kirk Snyder and Kris Humphries, turned out, there is some major heat on OConnor to get it right as the Jazz are clearly not used to being in the lottery. While the Jazz are blowing some smoke recently to some about not enamored with any of the PGs besides Deron Williams and Chris Paul, in an effort to get in other top prospects like Danny Granger and Joey Graham who play positions that they are obviously stacked at, they are telling others that theyll probably have no choice but to pick a PG with the #6 pick. According to what we are hearing, no big men are being considered by Utah with their lottery pick at the moment and they will most likely go with a guard.
That PG is obviously Raymond Felton, especially considering that as always their options in free agency are going to be limited compared with other teams who can offer a more attractive market than the Jazz can in Salt Lake City. According to sources, Antonio Daniels and Earl Watson are their top two free agent PG targets with the MLE, but neither of those are guaranteed to land in Utah considering that the competition for their services will be stiff with the way the new CBA is structured. The Jazz have a workout scheduled on Saturday for a couple of excellent wing prospects in Danny Granger, Joey Graham, Hakim Warrick and Linas Kleiza.
Antoine Wright was going to be the fourth player at that workout, but hes smart enough to know that hes not going picked there with the glut of wing players in Utah and therefore decided that hes better off trying to convince a team drafting from 7-14 that they would be foolish to pass up on him.
The Jazz have the assets needed to make a deal on draft night for a solid PG, including two first rounders, two second rounders and a slew of talented players in their 20s with contracts big and small, so dont be surprised to see them make a move either on the 28th or even before.
Toronto loves Granger. Granger loves Toronto.
According to a number of NBA sources, Danny Granger had an outstanding workout this past week in Toronto and could be their top available player on the board when the number seven pick rolls around on draft night. With the #4 for #6 trade we reported earlier between Utah and New Orleans off the table right now (New Orleans is beginning to realize what an excellent spot they are in at the moment), Granger would indeed be there at 7 as long as things go as expected with Green or Paul going 3rd or 5th, Deron Williams going 4th and Utah standing pat and taking Raymond Felton. Granger fits in perfectly with what the Raptors are looking to accomplish in terms of his style of play and character, with the fact that he was absolutely lights out from behind the arc being icing on the cake as far as Toronto is concerned. The feeling appears to be mutual. Sources close to Granger have indicated that Toronto was indeed his favorite city on his workout schedule so far, going as far as to say that Danny expressed that he loved everything about his trip to Canada; including the coaching staff, front office, and just the organization in general. If hes on the board (which looks likely right now before any trades have been made), look for him to be taken 7th on draft night.
Whats up with Webster?
Martell Webster pulled out of his second workout in a row yesterday, this time with the Orlando Magic. As in his previous workout which he had to pull out of in Toronto, Webster still met with the coaching staff and did everything besides actually showing what he has to offer on the court. The official reason for pulling out was a sprained ankle, the same ankle that he had surgery on as a junior last year. He hurt it in Charlotte back on the 14th and it is still bothering him right now apparently. Webster is another player who is extremely tough to peg down in this draft. Many previously thought that he may have a promise at #11 in Orlando, but the fact that he is still traveling around the country to meet up with teams (especially Orlando) make you wonder about that. If a couple of trades go down on draft night and someone in his new area doesnt have a great handle on his game, is he going to regret not playing through a sprain for ten crucial days right before the draft? This is especially considering that he didnt do any workouts before Chicago. Well have to wait and see. Its still quite possible that he did get a promise and just did a short round of workouts to throw teams off the scent. Orlando previously (and still might) looked good, but they are now talking about making a trade. Antoine Wright could be there at their pick. The Clippers appear to be committed to Korolev if Antoine Wright isnt on the board. The Bobcats could be a great spot to pick him up, but both of their picks are in play as well, while certain scenarios could see them picking up Gerald Green with the #5 pick, which would make Webster redundant at #13. The good news is, all of our questions will be answered in just four short days.
Francisco Garcia to Minnesota?
Were definitely not sure about this one, but there is certainly some buzz out there so we thought wed throw it out. A couple of interesting developments have some people believing that Francisco Garcia could possibly be drafted by the Timberwolves come June 28th. For starters, there are rumblings that Rex Chapman is close to landing a gig with the Timberwolves. Chapman recently quit his job with the Phoenix Suns, allegedly out of frustration of being left out of their inside circle when it comes to the decision making process.
His former assistant coach while he was a player at Kentucky, and the man that even recruited him to college, Dwayne Casey, was recently hired by the Timberwolves as their new head coach. Minnesota is apparently making some room for Chapman now in the front office. Its no secret that Chapman is a big fan of Garcias. Another connection here is an assistant coach at Louisville under Rick Pitino who is being added to Minnesotas staff as well. Obviously he knows Garcias game well. The final straw is the fact that Garcia himself is working out for Minnesota on Monday, the day before the draft. Does one plus one equal two? Lets wait and find out.
Green Room Invitees
A number of green room invitees have already been leaked to DraftExpress over the past few days. The usual suspects, Andrew Bogut, Marvin Williams, Chris Paul, Gerald Green and Deron Williams are obviously on the list. Danny Granger will be there too, as will Fran Vazquez and Channing Frye. According to sources, in addition to Marvin Williams, there will be three other North Carolina players out of the fifteen players in attendance in Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants. One telling invite from what we were told is Yaroslav Korolev, which is shocking considering that this is a list that was supposedly made up over 10 ten days ago. No disrespect intended, but its incredible to think that just two months ago, Korolev wasnt even on the map and now hes in the green room. Obviously the people who made up the green room invite list are buying into the fact that he indeed has a promise from someone in the lottery. If not, this might be a disaster waiting to happen on national television.
Where does Mile Ilic get drafted?
Following hours of breaking down tape, look for an in depth article coming tomorrow discussing the prospects of most of the top European forwards for this years draft and beyond, including a section on Mile Ilic, who is more of a center but needs to be discussed as well considering that he surprisingly decided to keep his name in the draft.
Weve been working the phones over the past few days trying to figure out where he might have a promise, and still have yet to come up with any type of evidence that hell be taken in the 1st round beyond the fact that it makes sense. We do know that Ilics first and last workout was in Phoenix on Wednesday. According to his agent Marc Cornstein, Ilic is in the US, but will not be working out for anyone. In his last game of the season in the semi-finals of the Serbian playoffs on June 16th, Ilic had 24 points and 10 rebounds. A few teams had scouts in place, including the Miami Heat who sent their top scout Adam Simon to watch that game. With all due respect to Adam Simon (he has a great name in NBA circles) its pretty hard to believe that Pat Riley would use Miamis only pick in the draft on a guy who he hasnt seen in person. The problem is that Pat Riley had to skip a number of workouts last week because of an anniversary Regardless, Riley and the Heat are looking to win a championship while Shaq is still standing. Obviously the #29 pick is not whats going to put them over the hump, but with Miami looking pretty good at the center position with Shaq and Zo, its hard to believe that they would draft a raw third string center with no buyout when clearly the emphasis is on winning and doing that right now. If there is a shooter with some size who can handle the ball and compliment Shaq and Wade on the board for the Heat at #29 look for the Heat to nab him.